Ouch!  Why is my tooth so sensitive???

What causes tooth sensitivity?

Tooth wear ➔ Incorrect brushing technique, night grinding, and excessively frequent intake of acidic foods.  Once the protective layers of enamel and dentin become thin, the harmful stimuli can irritate the pulp easily to elicit pain.
Dental caries ➔ As decay invades the dentin, the harmful products of bacterial activity irritate the pulp and cause hypersensitivity.
Receeding gums ➔ Cementum, the layer that covers the roots of teeth is not as thick as enamel and is thin especially near the gums. Therefore when the gums recede due to disease, roots are exposed.
Injury and or fractured tooth ➔ If cracks on or within the enamel are extensive the tooth becomes sensitive as the dentin is exposed.
Defective fillings ➔ Old, faulty, broken or improperly done fillings may render tooth sensitivity.
Missing fillings ➔ May expose the second layer of tooth dentin.

How can I prevent tooth sensitivity?

  • Regular  oral  hygiene  performed  properly  is  #1. Brushing  your  teeth  harshly,  using  too  much pressure or using a hard-bristled toothbrush may cause your gums to recede and expose your roots.
  • Other contributing factors: tobacco use, oral piercings, some medications or even changes in female hormone levels during puberty, pregnancy and menopause.

Can tooth sensitivity be treated?

  • Desensitizing toothpaste, such as Sensodyne to use at home.  These toothpastes contain medicines to help prevent the irritants from stimulating the nerve inside the tooth.
  • Some higher-acid mouthrinses may also increase tooth sensitivity, so your dentist may recommend switching brands.
  • In-office treatments are also available. Fluoride varnish is great for strengthening tooth enamel and reducing sensations that irritate the root.
  • Other treatments, such as fillings, crowns, inlays, bonding, or desensitizing agents can be used to repair areas of the tooth that are damaged or to cover areas that are exposed by gum recession.

Speak with your dentist and dental hygienist about treatment options and how you can prevent tooth sensitivity.